Since The Milk Carton Kids unveiled their hilariously spot-on“What Even Is Americana?”at this year’s Americana Music Awards, the song has been the talk of roots music social media. What constitutes the increasingly big tent that is the term “Americana”? It’s a question I ask every time I prepare this column, judging if interesting new crowdfunding finds are “Americana” enough to be of interest to roots music listeners. Jazz is an area that, while less represented in Americana than country or rock, is in some ways the quintessential roots music, the ultimate American melting pot of styles and cultures. For this edition of Crowdfunding Radar, I’m taking a look at three very different campaigns that are all connected by the common threads of jazz and folk.
Staci Griesbach – My American Songbook: Patsy Cline
When Staci Griesbach began choosing songs for her debut album, she immediately thought about the Great American Songbook, which every jazz vocalist is intimately familiar with. But Griesbach’s own “American Songbook” included heavy doses of classic country and rockabilly, so she decided to forgo the path of her peers and give one of her idols, Patsy Cline, a jazz interpretation. She’s currently raising money for the album via Kickstarter. Backer reward packages (all named for Cline songs), include signed copies of the album on CD or vinyl; Griesbach’s own list of “Patsy Pairings,” period-appropriate recipes she feels goes well with the songs; and VIP tickets to the album release party.
Jen Chapin – Desert or Sea
When your dad is folk music icon Harry Chapin, you know a thing or two about roots music. But Jen Chapin has always forged her own path, with a sound that blends folk, soul, and jazz into something completely new. With her new album, Desert or Sea, currently on preorder through PledgeMusic, Chapin skips the collaborators that filled out her 2013 album Reckoning and focuses on closely replicating her live sound by recording with just the duo that accompanies her on the road, Stephan Crump and Jamie Fox. Backer rewards include copies of not only the new album but all of Chapin’s work on CD and in some cases vinyl, a signed poster, a handmade “We Won’t Turn Back” lyric necklace, and an acoustic house concert.
John Medeski’s Mad Skillet – Mad Skillet
It’s hard to think of any genre of music that has roots that run deeper than New Orleans’ own unique brand of jazz, and one of its leading figures of the modern era is John Medeski, the keyboardist behind any number of bands, most famously Medeski, Martin, and Wood. Medeski’s new project, Mad Skillet, also features prolific collaborator Will Bernard on guitar and the rhythm section of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, sousaphonist Kirk Joseph and drummer Terrance Higgins. The nine-track album of original songs is set to release Nov. 9 and is available for preorder now via Kickstarter, with extra rewards that include a signed Mad Skillet poster, a meet and greet for the band’s November dates that includes watching soundcheck, and a private music lesson via Skype or in person from Medeski.